Weekly working hours for Norwegian hospital doctors

Weekly working hours for Norwegian hospital doctors since 1994 with special attention to postgraduate training, work-home balance and the European Working Time Directive: a panel study. Rosta J, Aasland OG. BMJ Open 2014; 4:e005704.

Article in English - Doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005704. Published online 13 October 2014.

Abstract on PubMed:
Objectives To examine the weekly working hours of Norwegian hospital doctors from 1994 to 2012 with special emphasis on the quality of postgraduate training and work–home balance, and in relation to the requirements of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD).
Design Panel study based on postal questionnaires.
Setting Norway.
Participants Unbalanced cohort of 1300–1600 doctors in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012.
Outcome measures Self-reported total weekly working hours and whether 45 weekly working hours are too short, sufficient, or too long to meet the quality requirements of obligatory postgraduate training for junior doctors.
Results From 1994 to 2012, the number of weekly working hours was stable for senior (46–47 h) and junior (45–46 h) hospital doctors. In 2012, significantly more senior (27–35%) than junior (11–20%) doctors reported suboptimal work–home balance, defined as working more than 48 h a week. The majority perceived the present situation with an average of 45 h per week for juniors as sufficient for obligatory postgraduate specialist training, but doctors of higher age (OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.08), senior doctors (1.07, 1.04 to 1.11) and doctors working in surgical specialties (OR 1 vs laboratory medicine 0.03, 0.01 to 0.25, internal medicine 0.31, 0.17 to 0.58, psychiatry 0.12, 0.04 to 0.36, paediatrics 0.36, 0.12 to 1.07, anaesthesiology 0.08, 0.02 to 0.39, gynaecology 0.07, 0.01 to 0.56 and others 0.39, 0.04 to 3.56) were more likely to want the work-week to be longer.
Conclusions The weekly working hours of Norwegian hospital doctors were always below the EWTD requirements. A significant growth of hospital doctor density over the past two decades, national regulations and cultural values might be important factors. Specialty differences in perception of sufficient training time may call for more flexibility in working time regulations. 

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